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Saturday, September 28, 2013


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My God have we been arguing about this for five years??

>>He sees no difference between 'something' and 'something that exists' where I do see a difference.<<


>>Because the items in the domain of quantification exist, there has to be more to existence than can be captured by the so-called 'existential' quantifier.”<<

And I would say, because there are items in the domain of quantification, or (revertente in idem) because the domain of quantification contains some items, there is no more to being in the domain of quantification than is already captured by the ‘existential’ quantifier.

>> one can expect something better than the blatantly circular, 'To exist is to be identical to something.'

This is your formulation. I simply say that to exist is to be in the domain of quantification.

>> One moves in a circle of embarrassingly short diameter if one maintains that to exist is to be identical to something that exists. <<

Agreed, if ‘something that exists’ means more than just ‘something’, which I had already noted, I see.

>> 'Dragons exist,' for example, which is false, becomes 'Some item is a dragon' which is true. <<

No, ‘some item is a dragon’ is false.

More than five years, Ed. We were discussing this before 2008.

You agree that everything exists. How would you express 'Everything exists'? Surely not like this: For all x, x exists. For that features a first-level use of 'exists.' So how?

Actually I realise we have made a small amount of progress in that I now agree that some things no longer exist, and so don't exist. So it is not true that everything exists. Some things are (i.e. exist). Some things were, but aren't any more. And some things will be, but aren't yet.

There was a discussion on my blog somewhere about this. We discussed the apparent paradox that some things aren't things (although they were things).

Bill, there’s something else to say. You frequently mention my connection with Williams as though it were important, and as though I accepted his views on reference and meaning. I don’t. I broadly share his nominalism, as well as his views on the the european variety of philosophy. But I don’t share his view on the ‘second level’ predication of existence. In particular, I reject entirely his view on fictional and empty names which can be found in Chapter 10 of his book Existence, which he needs to bolster up the second-level theory, given his rejection of the hypothesis that names are disguised descriptions. His view is that fictional names are a sort of pretend name, and that their semantics are somehow different – radically different – from the semantics of ‘real’ names. I reject this. As you ought to know by now, I hold that names are singular descriptions.

IMO, a singular proposition with a proper-name subject both asserts the existence of its subject (or rather, asserts that it has a subject, since ‘X has a subject’ and ‘X has an existing subject’ are identical IMO), and asserts that the predicate is satisfied by the subject. I.e. ‘Pegasus flies’ asserts that something satisfies ‘Pegasus’ and that it also satisfies ‘flies’.

If you are looking for a reason why we have discussed the problem of existence for more than five years, you need to consider this aspect of our argument. Occasionally you venture into this remote corner, usually to discuss and reject ‘haecceity properties’, but then you retreat back to Williams and various straw men. ‘Haecceity properties’ is also a straw man, because I reject those too.

I accept the P->K4 line of your main attack, namely your attack on the idea of existence as a second-level predicate. You don’t need to prove that it isn’t, because I concede that it isn’t. You need to get to the middle game, from which we can proceed to the end game.


Thanks for the comments. Even if 'Everything exists' is false, how would you translate it?

I apologize for assimilating you to Williams. Your phil of lang concerns are not my main concerns, which may help explain why I have difficulty understanding you.

>>Even if 'Everything exists' is false, how would you translate it?

Every thing is a thing. Which I believe is false, because some things (such as Socrates) although they were a thing, are things no longer.

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